I received an urgent phone call on my cell phone the morning of the 29th of July. A Uintathere skull had been uncovered at a construction site in Colorado and they needed to get it out of the way quickly. They asked if I could bring a group over to excavate. I told them that I was just finishing up a dig at Swarez and that we could be there the next morning. So, Bill and I closed up the Swarez site and left for Price.
Bill and I left for Colorado early Thursday morning and arrived at the site at 10 am. Excavation was already underway and the equipment trailer had been hauled to the site. The Uintathere skull is in a sandstone concretion surrounded by softer sandstone. A turtle shell with bones and a skull were also preserved in the concretion. This is the first discovery of a Uintathere skull in this area and skulls from turtles are extremely rare making this a very important find.
We used a small trackhoe to pull the matrix from around the concretion and expose it in preparation to be jacketed. This saved us many hours of work by hand. After the trackhoe had finished, we were able to undercut using an electric jackhammer and hand tools.
We used a hammer drill to honeycomb part of the concretion so it could be removed. This was to reduce the weight of the final jacket to make it easier to handle.
We then covered the exposed fossils with paper towels and moistened them with water to hold them in place. For the jacket, we used plaster of paris and burlap strips. Because this is a large jacket, we put on several layers. We let it dry and set up overnight and the next morning, with the help of a larger trackhoe, the jacket was rolled over and we were able to complete the jacket on the bottom side.
Monday morning we loaded all the fossils and jackets on the flatbed trailer and left the area to the bulldozers. We had a great crew and the heavy equipment operators were great to work with. This find would not have been discovered without the cooperative efforts of all those involved. I am thankful for the opportunity to work on this dig.